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gentlemen's daughters, and had no earthly right to give themselves airs; but I suspect that we may sometimes see in elder gentlewomen the same disproportion, and that those who might, from birth, fortune, and position assume such a right, will be the very last to exert their privilege. Luckily for me I was a little girl, protected by my youth and insignificance from the danger of a contagion which it requires a good deal of moral courage to resist. I remember wondering how Mdlle. Rose, with her incessant industry, her open desire to sell her bonnets, and her shabby cotton gown, would escape from our censors. Happily she was spared, avowedly because her birth was noble— perhaps because, with all their vulgar denunciations of vulgarity, their fineries, and their vanities, the young girls were better than they knew, and respected in their hearts the very humility which they denounced.
If, however, there were something about the fair Frenchwoman that held in awe the spirit of girlish impertinence, chance soon bestowed upon them, in the shape of a new pupil, an object which called forth all their worst qualities, without stint and without impediment.
The poor child who was destined to become their victim, was a short squat figure, somewhere about nine or ten years of age; awkward in her carriage, plain in her features, ill-dressed and over-dressed. She happened to arrive at the same time with the French dancing-master, a Marquis of the ancien regime, of whom I am sorry to say, that he seemed so at home in his Terpsichorean vocation, that one could hardly fancy him fit for any other. (Were not les Marquis of the old French comedy very much like dancing-masters; I am sure Moliere thought so.) At the same time with the French dancing-master did our new fellow-pupil arrive, led into the room by her father; he did not stay five minutes, but that time was long enough to strike Monsieur with a horror, evinced by a series of shrugs which soon rendered the dislike reciprocal. I never saw such a contrast between two men. The Frenchman was slim, and long, and pale; and allowing always for the dancing-master air, which in my secret soul I thought never could be allowed for, he might be called elegant. The Englishman was the beau ideal of a John Bull, portentous in size, broad, and red of visage; loud of tongue, and heavy in step; he shook the room as he strode, and made the; walls echo when he spoke. I rather liked the man, there was so much character about him, and in spite of the coarseness, so much that was bold and hearty. Monsieur shrugged to be sure, but he seemed likely to run away, especially when the stranger's first words conveyed an injunction to the lady of the house, "to take care that no grinning Frenchman had the ordering of his Betsy's feet. If she must learn to dance, let her be taught by an honest Englishman." After which declaration, kissing the little girl very tenderly, the astounding papa took his departure.
Poor Betsy! there she sate, the tears trickling down her cheeks, little comforted by the kind notice of the governess and the English teacher, and apparently insensible to the silent scorn of her new companions. For my own part, I entertained toward her much of that pity which results from recent experience of the same sort of distress,—
"A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind."
I was a little girl myself, abundantly shy aad awkward, and I had not forgotten the heart-tug of leaving home, and the terrible loneliness of the first day at school. Moreover, I suspected that in one respect she was much more an object of compassion than myself; I believed her to be motherless; so when I thought nobody was looking or listening, I made some girlish advances toward acquaintanceship, which she was still too shy or too miserable to return, so that, easily repelled myself, as a bashful child is, our intercourse came to nothing. With my elders and betters, the cancan, who ruled the school, Betsy stood if possible lower than ever. They had had the satisfaction to discover not only that he lived in the Borough, but that her father (horror of horrors !) was an eminent cheesefactor !—a seller of Stilton! That he was very rich, and had a brother an alderman, rather made matters worse. Poor Betsy only escaped being sent to Coventry by the lucky circumstance of her going that metaphorical journey of her own accord, and never under any temptation speaking to any body one unnecessary word.
As far as her lessons went she was, from the false indulgence with which she had been treated, very backward for her age. Our school was, however, really excellent as a place of instruction; so no studies were forced upon her, and she was left to get acquainted with the house and its ways, and to fall into the ranks as she could.
For the present she seemed to have attached herself to Mdlle. Rose, attracted probably by the sweetness of her countenance, her sadness, and her silence. Her speech could not have attracted Betsy, for in common with many of her exiled country-folk, she had not in nearly ten years' residence in England learned to speak five English words. But something had won her affection. She had on first being called by the governess, from the dark corner in which she had ensconced herself, crept to the side of the young Frenchwoman, had watched her as she wove her straw plaits, had attempted the simple art with some discarded straws that lay scattered upon the floor; and when Mademoiselle so far roused herself as to show her the proper way, and to furnish her with the material, she soon became a most efficient assistant in this branch of industry.
No intercourse took place between them. Indeed, as I have said, none was possible, since neither knew a word of the other's language. Betsy was silence personified; and poor Mdlle. Rose, always pensive and reserved, was now more than ever dejected and oppressed. An opportunity of returning to France had opened to her, and was passing away. She herself was too young to be included in the list of emigrants, and interest had been made with the French Consul for the re-admission of her venerable parents, and perhaps for the ultimate recovery of some property still unsold. But her grandfather was so aged, and her grandmother so sickly, that the expenses of a voyage and a journey, then very formidable to the old and the infirm, were beyond her means, beyond even her hopes. So she sighed over her strawplaiting, and submitted.
In the mean time the second Saturday arrived, and with it a summons home to Betsy, who, for the first time gathering courage to address our good governess, asked " if she might be trusted with the bonnet Mdlle. Rose had just finished, to show her aunt— she knew she would like to buy that bonnet, because Mademoiselle had been so good as to let her assist in plaiting it." How she came to know that they were for sale nobody could tell; but our kind governess ordered the bonnet to be put into the carriage, told her the price—(no extravagant one !)—called her a good child, and took leave of her till Monday.
Two hours after Betsy and her father re-appeared in the schoolroom. "Ma'amselle," said he, bawling as loud as he could, with the view, as we afterward conjectured, of making her understand him. "Ma'amselle, I've no great love for the French, whom I take to be our natural enemies. But you're a good young woman; you've been kind to my Betsy, and have taught her how to make your fallals; and moreover you're a good daughter: and so's my Betsy. She says that she thinks you're fretting, because you can't manage to take your grandfather and grandmother back to France again ;—so as you let her help you in that other handy-work, why you must let her help you in this." Then throwing a heavy purse into her lap, catching his little daughter up in his arms, and hugging her to the honest breast where she hid her tears and her blushes, he departed, leaving poor Mdlle. Rose too much bewildered to speak or to comprehend the happiness that had fallen upon her, and the whole school the better for the lesson.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DRAMATIC AUTHORS.
COLLET CIBBER. RICHARD CUMBERLAND.
Of all literary fascinations there is none like that of the Drama, written or acted. None that begins so early, or that lasts so long.
With regard to actors, it is a sort of possession by evil spirits. Boys and girls from the school-room and the counting-house, the shop-board, or the college, rush upon the stage, forsaking home and comfort, and the thousand realities of life, in chase of the phantom, Fame. And in authorship, the passion, although not perhaps so common, is hardly less engrossing, or less destructive The "Honeymoon," one of the most delightful of modern comedies, was the seventh play presented by poor Tobin to different managers. He died, I believe, the very same night that it was performed with unrivaled success, certainly before the intelligence of its triumph could reach him. Gerald Griffin was even less fortunate. "Gisippus" was rejected on all hands, and only produced after his death, and after the destruction of his other tragedies, to secure for its author a posthumous reputation. Many, no doubt, more unfortunate still, have died and left no name; and many may still exist, dragging after them a weary weight of hope deferred, and genius unrecognized.
I have some right to talk of the love of the drama, the passionate, absorbing, worshiping love, since it took possession of me at the earliest age, and clung to me long. Nay, I am not even now absolutely sure, that if the Cruvellis and the Viordots would but say, instead of sing; if we might but see in tragedy the dramatic power lavished upon opera, I might not be simple enough once more to take up my old enthusiasm, and haunt the theaters at sixty-five! Luckily, the age is a musical age, and there is small danger that any Glueen of Song should exchange her notes fer